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Contemporary Black Artists in America

Group show at Whitney Museum of American Art. 1971
Date: 6 April, 1971 until 16 May, 1971
Curator: Robert M. Doty
Organiser: Witney Museum of American Art

From the flyleaf to the publication, Contemporary Black Artists in America, an exhibition held at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, curated by Robert Doty, April 6 - May 16 1971.

“By brush or by pencil, in stone or in metal - whether jubilant or bitter - every gifted young artist today will to express himself boldly. And the Negro is not exceptional. Deep within, his creative energies are fired by the rich heritage of a continent where black Africans lived as men centuries before the Romans ruled. These he must now struggle to coalesce with a modern America, to compete to advantage in a world still largely coverned by the white man. This collection of fifty plates, including six in color, represents the very best from the Whiitney Museum’s most exciting, visually stimulating, 1971 exhibit of Contemporary Black Artists in America.”

The exhibition featured 58 practitioners, drawn from across the country, and came with an important catalogue, which included an uncredited essay, presumably written by Robert Doty. From the essay:

“So long as Black artists are inspired to create, they will continue to testify to the “Black experience,” the special conditions, heritage and emotions which delineate the life of Black people. But creative drives cannot be channelled. Inevitably an artist reacts to the ideas and techniques which constitute the current mode, sensing and assimilating new directions of thought and vision, or the evolution of his own technique and ideas guides him toward a new result. Richard Hunt and Barbara Chase-Riboud first received attention for their figure-oriented sculptures, but over the course of a decade both have worked towards abstraction, while retaining references to the organic in their pieces. As a young artist in California, Daniel Johnson has been preoccupied with the value of discarded objects and produced rough assemblages which often symbolized racial conditions. Since moving to New York, Johnson has been preoccupied with problems of color, form and space. Melvin Edwards entitled an early group of welded steel pieces “Lynch Fragments Series,” but his recent work demonstrates a coalescence of static and flexible states rather than racial tragedy. William Henderson painted a series of demonic images from the black world, but he has now refined both his technique and imagery to pursue hard-edged, geometric abstraction. The nuances of color and images of Africa are the vehicle for paintings by Frank Bowling. These six are representative of a new generation of Black artists, who inherited their own culture and sought the universal canons of the visual arts. Their task will be the accommodation, or rejection, of venerable emotions and new stimuli.”

Related items

click to show details of Contemporary Black Artists in America

»  Contemporary Black Artists in America

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1971

People in this exhibition - view 5

»  Ralph Arnold

Born, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois

»  Ellsworth Ausby

Born, 1942 in Portsmouth, Virginia, USA

»  Roland Ayres

Born, 1932 in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died, 2014

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

»  James Brantley

Born, 1945

»  Marvin Brown

Born, 1943

»  Walter Cade III

Born, 1936

»  Catti

Born, 1940

»  John E Chandler

Born, 1943

»  Barbara Chase-Riboud

Born, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

»  Walter Davis

Born, 1937

»  Avel de Knight

Born, 1933

»  Murray N. DePillars

Born, 1938

»  David C. Driskell

Born, 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia. Died, 2020

»  Fred/Frederick John Eversley

Born, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

»  Ernest Frazier

Born, 1942

»  Russell T. Gordon

Born, 1936

»  William Howard Henderson

Born, 1943

»  Barkley L. Hendricks

Born, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Died, 2017

»  Alvin Hollingsworth

Born, 1928 in New York City, New York

»  Manuel Hughes

Born, 1938

»  Nathaniel Hunter, Jr

Born, 1939

»  Lester Johnson

Born, 1937

»  Nathaniel B. Knight

Born, 1942

»  Jacob Lawrence

Born, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Died, 2000

»  Hughie Lee-Smith

Born, 1915 in Eustis, Florida, USA. Died, 1999

»  James Lee

Born, 1927

»  Tom Lloyd

Born, 1929. Died, 1996

»  Al/Alvin Loving

Born, 1935. Died, 2005

»  Phillip Lindsay Mason

Born, 1939

»  Charles W. McGee

Born, 1924

»  Lloyd G. McNeil, Jr

Born, 1935 in Washington, D.C.

»  Algernon Miller

Born, 1945 in New York, USA

»  Norma Morgan

Born, 1928 in New Haven, Connecticut

»  Howardena Pindell

Born, 1943 in Philadelphia, PA, USA

»  Stephanie Pogue

Born, 1944

»  Noah Purifoy

Born, 1917

»  Mavis Pusey

Born, 1928 - 1934 (probably 1931) in Jamaica, West Indies

»  Robert Reid

Born, 1924. Died, 2000

»  John Rhoden

Born, 1918

»  Henry Rollins

Born, 1937

»  Joseph B. Ross, Jr

Born, 1943

»  Mahler B. Ryder

Born, 1937

»  Betye Saar

Born, 1923 - 1929 (probably 1926) in Los Angeles, California

»  Raymond Saunders

Born, 1934

»  Charles Searles

Born, 1937 in Philadelphia

»  Frank Sharpe

Born, 1942

»  Thomas Sills

Born, 1914 in Castalia, North Carolina, USA

»  Vincent Smith

Born, 1929

»  Evelyn P. Terry

Born, 1946

»  Alma Thomas

Born, 1886 - 1896 (probably 1891). Died, 1978

»  John Torres

Born, 1939

»  Charles White

Born, 1918. Died, 1979

»  Franklin A. White, Jr

Born, 1943

»  Reginald Wickham

Born, 1931

»  Todd Williams

Born, 1939 in Savannah, Georgia

»  Hartwell Yeargans

Born, 1918 in Kansas City, Missouri

»  Elyn Zimmerman

Born, 1945

Exhibition venues

»  Whitney Museum of American Art

New York, United States of America